A think thank urged French and German leaders to use post-election time to boost the euro
In a 77-page report entitled “The Europe We Need”, the Institut Montaigne, an independent institute with links to French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon, called for a “multi-speed” Europe in which the eurozone presses ahead with its own budget and even a prime minister.
The report, the product of months of consultation between leading figures from European business, politics and banking, could serve as a blueprint for use by a new French president.
Polls suggest M Macron, a pro-European former banker, will face Marine Le Pen, the anti-EU leader of Front National, in a second round run-off on May 7, and beat her.
“We are in a geopolitical environment that is extremely dangerous for Europeans,” Ramon Fernandez, the finance and strategy chief at French mobile phone group Orange and head of the working group that produced the report, told Reuters.
The report from the Institute Montaigne called for a 'multi-speed' Europe Who will be the next President of France? Mon, March 20, 2017
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“If our leaders are to shape the future of Europe and give it back its momentum, it may be now or never. This political will is absolutely necessary. The year 2017 will be decisive,” said M Fernandez, a former head of the French Treasury.
We are in a geopolitical environment that is extremely dangerous for Europeans
The German election will be held four months after the French vote. Conservative Angela Merkel is expected to face a tough challenge from Social Democrat Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament.
It also calls for Europe's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, to be turned into a full-fledged monetary fund as well as tougher European defences against foreign companies and cross-border mergers to create European champions.
Polls suggest Emmanual Macron will face and beat Marine Le Pen in a second round run-off on May 7
In foreign policy, it stresses the need for good relations with Britain and the United States, despite Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump. It recommends offering Turkey an alternative to EU membership, saying the political evolution of the country makes joining the bloc impossible.
Above all it stresses the importance of the eurozone and smaller groups of countries pressing ahead with closer integration, a similar message to the one sent on Saturday at a summit of 27 EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Rome Treaty.
Angela Merkel is expected to face a tough challenge from Martin Schulz
The report calls for an “executive” for the currency bloc in the form of a prime minister or finance minister, who would be answerable to a euro zone subsection of the European Parliament.
“The first priority is the euro zone. We need to shore up the edifice and complete the process that was started with the creation of the single currency,” said M Fernandez.
“The euro zone is the heart. We need to irrigate it better.”